“Bear Fruit” – (It’s Not an Option)

Hidden Lessons

Sometimes, if you read Scripture carefully, a hidden lesson, which may not be the main purpose of the verse, might be there. 

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” 

Luke 2:13-14

“Glory to God – and peace!” That’s the main purpose of those two verses, but it does also say, “… among men with whom he is pleased!”  (The hidden lesson). 

I attend a church which hopes for world peace among all. Yet we pray this verse each week asking for peace to “men of good will.” I believe the hidden lesson is that men of evil will are in for it! Those angels of the book of Revelation are not passing out marshmallows. 

 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 

Matthew 19:3-8

One not-so-hidden lesson we can see here is Jesus referring them to the beginning. Sure, things have evolved and changed for different (weakness, sinful, other) reasons, but what did God intend “from the beginning”? 

Be Fruitful

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it… “   

Genesis 1:27-28a

So from the very beginning, mankind was instructed to bear fruit … in this case, children. 

 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”    

Matthew 28:18-20

While the instructions at the beginning of creation are crucial, I think it’s also important to pay special attention to the final instruction. We again hear the instruction, “bear fruit”, but in this case the fruit Jesus is talking about is the making of disciples.

“Bearing fruit” is a serious direction. 

 “For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property;to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. 

     But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.  And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ 

And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ 

     He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 

     But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’”   

Matthew 25:14-30

This lesson by Jesus can be used for leadership training: “… faithful over a little, I will set you over much.” It also shows the serious nature of bearing fruit: “… you wicked and slothful servant! I should have received what was my own with interest.” Most of us are not wicked, but too many of us are slothful … not doing our part in a group that bears fruit. 

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.    

Mark 11:12-14

This second, serious Scripture passage suggests again that Jesus expects fruit and is seriously disappointed with consequences when it’s not there: “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.”

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear evil men but have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not, and found them to be false;I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

Revelation 2:1-5

A church or a community is not a “business-as-usual” body. It can appear to be busy and active (as this Church in Ephesus in the above Scripture passage) but lose its first love. Jesus calls it to repent and bear fruit (“do the works”) or he will remove its lampstand. There is so much we can learn as we consider how the Lord speaks to the churches in Revelation: 1) do not tolerate evil; 2) have correct teaching; 3) be alive, not dead; 4) don’t be lukewarm; 5) bear fruit; and 6) so much more!

We see that he watches over each church or community, and he expects us as a body to bear fruit … or there will be consequences.

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”   

Luke 13:6-9

Ah, mercy at last! The master is willing to wait until next year for you to bear fruit. I think that if you are a newer Christian or have been relatively untrained, you can presume upon this Scripture to “buy a little time” in this call to bear fruit. However, if you are a seasoned Christian and you are not bearing real fruit, you might want to take the seriousness of bearing fruit with more urgency. 

I have seen Christians “lose their lampstand” and I have seen Christian churches lose their lampstand and it’s not a pretty sight. 

What is Meant by “Fruit”? 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Galatians 5:22-24

We certainly can claim to be bearing fruit as we are growing personally as a Christian, and actively allowing the Holy Spirit to develop us into what he wants us to be. Yet the Christian life is both personal and corporate, inward, and outward. 

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

While we personally grow in the fruit of the Spirit, we are also meant to bear the fruit of conversion to Christ. We should be somehow growing the kingdom of God. Jesus did not want to see a peaceful-looking tree … he wanted a tree with figs on it. Every disciple should be a part of a body that is actively bearing fruit and he should be part of that effort. 

What if I’m Not Gifted?

It is true that some are more gifted than others as we see in the “talents” Scripture passage above. It is also true that some of us tend to be lazy; some of us don’t like to take risks. All of us do not want to hear from Jesus, “You wicked and lazy servant!” We need to be actively building the kingdom of God; it has to have a central place in our heart; it has to consume time, money, prayers and thought life. It is among the most important aspects of our lives. Whether we are an evangelist or a prayer warrior, a musician or a janitor, the kingdom of God has to be a top priority.

Pastoral Responsibility

This call to bear fruit should be first learned in the family. Our children should always witness parents who strive to bear fruit for the kingdom of God. Parents should teach and show this to their children, and we should draw them into our evangelism and service. In our community we celebrate the opening and closing of the Lord’s Day. These little ceremonies display family order, service, and the sacred word of God.

Pastors and pastoral leaders should take a special concern to raise the awareness that we are called to bear fruit; to encourage those under our care to serve the mission of our body to bear fruit. Sometimes a simple question like, “What is your service in the body?” can get a person to move toward engaging in the effort. Perhaps asking, “Should you be doing more?” may be the encouragement a person needs to consider how they can increase their service. 

Recently I posted on our community mailing list three different testimonies of adults who encountered Christ at our People of God summer camp: one for Advent, one for Christmas and one for New Year’s Day. They were meant to encourage us, to remind us that we are bearing some fruit and that we should double down on our efforts to support the outreaches that are a part of our mission.

One of those summer camp testimonies is shown below.

I very confidently attribute the beginning of my personal relationship with God to my first year at summer camp. I grew up very involved in community life: going to prayer meetings, being around community families, exposed to a lot of charismatic worship, seeing my parents and other adults faithfully serve God and community. However, it was not until my first year of summer camp did I realize there was something deeper to this way of life my family was living. More importantly, I realized there was something or Someone for me in this way of life we were living.

 This memory is still very clear in my mind – it was late morning, after breakfast, at the daily boys’ prayer meeting. We started worship which was nothing new, it was a song I knew very well. But something sparked in me. My heart began to burn and I became overwhelmed. I remember looking around seeing I was surrounded by kids my age and adults who I looked up to, singing in joy to the Lord. These were songs I’ve heard my parents sing but to know that thousands of miles away, we were singing the same song moved me. At the time I had no idea why I was feeling this way but now I realize it as the familiar feeling of the Holy Spirit moving in my heart and it is cool to know that even back then that He was working.

 Even 12 years later, as a 21 year old, the Lord still used summer camp to bless me. I recently had an experience where I was going through a confusing time in my relationship with God and was asking where God was and I hadn’t felt his presence in a while. But as I was in worship, for a singular second, the Lord brought me back to summer camp. I don’t know how He did it but the feeling was so familiar and I knew exactly where I was. That was incredibly powerful for me for two reasons. I could not believe the God of the universe in His infinite majesty and glory would bother to care to bring that memory up, and to know something so dear to me. Second, it was like He brought me back to the first time I felt His presence in my heart to remind me that He has been there ever since.

 I hope those who organize and serve summer camp, past, present, and future, know that the Lord is truly working through camp. They have no idea how powerfully it has affected all who have come through it, even 12 years later. 

Johann Yorobe, Family of Faith, New Jersey

Every person who participated in that summer camp is bearing fruit: those who wrote notes; those who baked cookies; those who ministered the Word; those who undergirded it in prayer; and every form of service.

We also bear fruit in daily life by praying for, serving and speaking life to others. Acts of love, acts of service, and alms giving all support the life of a community of disciples on mission.


  • We are called to bear fruit.
  • All can participate in the mission.
  • Those with pastoral responsibility should engage us in the mission.
  • Everybody has an active role.
  • We don’t want to hear “wicked” or “lazy” from the Lord.
  • We do want to hear, “Well done … enter into the joy of your Master.”
  • God has designed us to bear fruit! (It’s not an option).

Top image credit: Composite photos of Kairos retreat, summer camping adventure, and community worship and prayer ministry, © 2024 Sword of the Spirit.

1 thought on ““Bear Fruit” – (It’s Not an Option)”

  1. Bob, You are clearly a man who has “born fruit” for the kingdom of God for many years. Because of the fruit you have born, many others have been able to bear fruit. May the fruit that came from your “tree”, continue on until Christ comes again. Well done my brother.

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